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SK Group to protect affiliates from hostile takeover after chairman's divorce ruling

FILE PHOTO: Chairman & CEO of SK Holdings, SK Innovation and SK Hynix Chey Tae-won speaks during an interview with Reuters

By Joyce Lee

SEOUL (Reuters) -South Korea's SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won said on Monday the conglomerate would prevent the outcome of his recent divorce payment ruling from leaving SK companies vulnerable to hostile takeover or other problems.

The Seoul High Court ruled in late May that Chey must pay more than $1 billion to his estranged wife as part of their planned divorce.

Chey is appealing the ruling to the Supreme Court, he told reporters on Monday.

"There are areas where we need to prevent this from developing into hostile takeovers or crises like that, but I think we have enough capacity to block them," Chey said.

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In a surprise appearance before the press, he bowed deeply in apology to the public for causing concern due to personal matters, adding that he would continue to carry out his managerial duties to contribute to the national economy.

Chey owns 17.7% of holding company SK Inc and controls SK Hynix, the world's second-largest memory chipmaker, and other SK affiliates through his stake in SK Inc.

Shares in SK Inc had jumped after the high court ruling, as investors bet that Chey may have to sell some of his stake in order to raise funds, if the Supreme Court confirms the ruling.

Analysts, however, say Chey may sell his holdings in non-core affiliates or take out loans to finance his divorce payment, so as not to affect his control over the conglomerate.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Rashmi Aich)